Politics | Auckland

'We need to make space for water' - Wayne Brown proposes flood management plan

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown is proposing flood management programmes for the region that would "make space" for water to move safely in future severe weather events.

Making Space For Water proposes nine initiatives ranging from increased stormwater maintenance and stream rehabilitation to 'blue-green' projects and site-specific solutions for high-risk properties.

He says Auckland needs to develop a system that lets excess water move without putting lives, property or the environment.

"Preparing for floods is an important part of climate change adaptation. We are taking action to drive significant progress and deliver on our commitment to giving communities the tools they need to be resilient.

“With thousands of properties directly affected by recent flood events, Aucklanders want clear communication, direction, and leadership from central and local government to help them make decisions."

'Practical and achievable'

The storms earlier this year, including the Auckland Anniversary weekend downpour and Cyclone Gabrielle, saw more than 1700 properties red or yellow stickered, communities isolated, landslides and severe damage to roads and infrastructure.

He says the programme, developed by the council's Healthy Waters stormwater division, is "practical and achievable" and will accelerate planned flood management across Tāmaki Makaurau. He predicts it can be achieved much faster than normal.

“Developing the programme quickly will help inform the central government’s Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery Taskforce, and ensure Auckland Council has a well-defined approach to recovery and risk reduction.”

Early indications are the cost will be in excess of $1 billion. Brown says the costs involved with moving quickly are beyond the capability of the council alone and would need assistance from other sources of funding including private sector, targeted rates rise and central government.

Aligning with government

“I am working hard to put Auckland Council on a secure financial footing, so we can respond to these challenges and focus on providing core infrastructure and services,” Brown says.

Last week, Brown met Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Auckland Minister Michael Wood, who agreed central and local government’s approach to flood and cyclone recovery needs to be aligned.

The Government’s Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery Taskforce is leading a process – with involvement from insurance companies, banks and Auckland Council – to engage with affected communities and individuals.

Auckland Council is looking forward to continued discussions with central government and welcomes this week’s Budget announcements.

“I appreciate that many Aucklanders require greater certainty. This requires significant funding and takes time, but work is underway at pace. I will have more to share with our affected communities soon,” Brown says.

Council decision next week

Richard Hills, who chairs the council planning, environment & parks committee says it is crucial community- focused responses are undertaken to ensure future climate change events are mitigated.

“It is crucial we listen to and work with affected communities as we develop our plans. We must take leadership on blue-green infrastructure and rollout interventions that respond to climate change and improve our environment.”

The proposal will go to the council's governing body next week for approval to send it to the public for consultation.

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